Like many disasters at Wolfram and Hart, it began with a meeting.
The conference room was spacious and the air conditioning top-notch, but still they felt packed in, and the weight of all those wool suits and all that moral ambiguity lay heavily on every sweat-lined face.
Gunn leaned his elbows on the table, leveling his gaze at the man across from him, who was just off of normal with a sickly grey-chalk complexion and hair that looked vacuum-molded like a ken doll’s. “Mr. Nolex, you’ve been with our firm for years.”
“Decades, really. And I consider it more of a friendship than a business relationship,” Mr. Nolex smiled his plastic smile.
“So why can’t you understand,” Gunn shifted, glancing at the rest of the Nolex Corporation’s people, “As a friend, that these… infractions… are creating an embarrassment to Wolfram and Hart?”
Angel’s face was as stony as an idol’s at the head of the table, but the jaw tightened just a bit more at the word “infractions” to show his displeasure at the euphemism.
Wesley, seated closest to him, could hear teeth grinding. He broke in with what he hoped was a pleasant smile, “These sacrifices aren’t even serving a valid purpose. Kel’mi’resh will not rise until 2057 at the earliest.”
Gunn gave Wesley a slight eyebrow raise.
Mr. Nolex smoothed a hand over his tie. “I understand your position, gentlemen, but if I am to give something, you should as well.”
“Of course,” Wesley said, at the same time that Gunn nodded. Angel didn’t move, though there was a tiny twitch under his right eye.
Mr. Nolex glanced around the room, as though changing the subject. “Where is that other vampire? The pretty blonde one?”
“Harmony?” Gunn pulled back in his seat, he was so surprised.
Nolex smiled. “No. The male, with the soul and all the black leather.” He licked his lips like there was something tasty on them.
“Spike?” Gunn looked even more flabbergasted by this idea. He looked to Angel for assistance.
Angel spoke up for the first time in the meeting. “Spike isn’t an employee.”
“Well, he’s obviously attached to you, in some capacity. I want him.”
Gunn said, “We are not in a habit of negotiating away our staff.”
“Oh, that’s so not true,” Nolex replied, smugly.
Wesley cleared his throat and met Gunn’s outraged expression apologetically. “The firm has a history of… lending personnel to top-rated clients.”
“We’re under new management now,” Angel said, leaning forward somewhat menacingly. “And he’s not. Staff.”
Nolex was unmoved. “That may be, but until I get what I want, you won’t get what you want. Come now, gentlemen! I won’t hurt the boy. Much.”
Gunn opened his mouth, on the verge of asking what he wanted Spike for, but wisely changed his mind. He cleared his throat. “You’re saying that in exchange for a temporary loan of, uh, our freelancer… you’ll stop the killings?” Gunn grimaced, obviously dissatisfied with his own choice of words.
“Absolutely,” Nolex beamed. “In fact, I’ve taken the liberty of working up a contract.” He gestured to one of his lackeys who produced a stack of folders from a briefcase and started passing them around: slick dark-blue paper folders with the logo of the Nolex Corporation – they were supposedly a chemical manufacturer, though nothing in their extensive legal files mentioned chemicals.
Gunn flipped through the contract, knowing the rest of his team were waiting for his assessment. It was as legitimate and legal as all contracts as Wolfram and Hart – which meant completely morally reprehensible. “I’d like a little time to look this over,” he said, although it was straightforward enough.
“Of course,” Nolex stood.
Wesley cleared his throat. “Pardon me for asking, but what exactly do you want him for?”
Nolex gave Wes a pitying look. “To fuck, of course.”
Wesley and Gunn both found the papers in front of them surprisingly interesting to look at as an uncomfortable pause descended.
“Fine,” Angel said, slapping the table. “Gunn will examine your proposal, and get back to you. Thank you for coming,” he said in a tone that implied he hoped they’d meet an untimely end on their way out.
As they filed out, Gunn snagged Angel’s elbow. “We aren’t actually considering this, right?”
“That’s your job to figure out,” Angel said.
“Which means we are considering it.”
“I’d rather rip that evil bastard’s head off, but someone,” he gave Gunn a pointed look, “keeps telling me their firm is too powerful.” Angel shrugged. “Worst case scenario? It’s just Spike.”
“What’s just me?” Spike sauntered in. “Oh, don’t get all constipated, people. Just here to ask granddad for the keys to the car.” He smiled in a most sarcastic manner and held out his hand.
Angel growled. “Oh yeah, we’re considering it.”
“Less considering and more handing over. I’ve got a date.” He looked around at the somber expressions Gunn and Wesley were giving. “Okay…” He dropped his hand. “What did I miss? World ending again?”
Wes, Gunn, and Angel each glanced at each other, expressing a near palpable “No way am I telling him – you tell him.”
Wesley sighed and took a step forward. “We are in negotiations with a minor demon lord who has asked, well, demanded, really…. Well, you.”
Spike took the news with a preening smile. “Well, can’t help how desirable I am. What’s he need? Bodyguard?”
Angel covered his face and tried to hold his laugh in. He failed.
Spike’s face fell. “Wot?”
“He wants to fuck you,” Angel said, clapping the other vampire on the shoulder and meeting his shocked expression with a smug eyebrow raise.
“Fuck that!” Spike said, pushing Angel’s hand off his shoulder.
“It’s not – nobody’s agreeing to this,” Gunn interjected.
“Yet,” Wes added, and Gunn shot him a glare.
Spike shrugged to adjust the lay of his leather coat and said, “Fine, I’m sure my lady friend has transportation of her own.” He turned in a swirl of leather and stalked back the way he’d come, leaving the small knot of frustrated men behind him.
No one wanted to say any more on the subject, and so Gunn, Wes, and Angel went their separate ways.